(Author’s note — I know that “Seventy Six Trombones” seems like an odd title for a post about baseball and clinching a division title. It’s actually a nod to Vin Scully‘s favorite musical, The Music Man. My friend Ron Ramos sent me a link to this article, which I had never read before, and this is my favorite quote from it: “One of my favorites, and I love so many, has to be ‘The Music Man,’ because it combines so many things about living in a small town, the barbershop harmony, the beautiful love songs … it has everything. I loved the play as well as the musical…..I guess my philosophy has always been to play something up-beat, a musical, while I’m driving to the park. Anything that’s full of beans, peppy. I like to get out of the car singing that last song.” And I don’t know about you, but I adore the thought of Vin humming and bouncing along to “Seventy Six Trombones” as he heads in the stadium.)
Well, here we are, the beginning of the end. Or the very close to the end of the end. In any case, it is coming rapidly to a close. In some ways, this is fantastic — the Dodgers are oh-so-close to clinching the division, with the magic number sitting at nine, and clinching at home. Doing so could allow the arranging of pitching lineups to be ready for the offseason, and the resting of players if they need it. But it also means we are down to our final 10 games of Vin Scully on the air, and the final homestand of the season.
The Dodgers return home for a seven game home stand, starting with the San Francisco Giants on Monday. The lead for the Dodgers currently sits at five games. At the end of the series, the Dodgers could be anywhere from eight games up to two games up. But the most important thing is, that at the end of the series, the Dodgers will still have the lead in the division. Personally, I am still a little in awe of this. Up until the All-Star break I dreaded these last two series with the Giants, thinking that the Dodgers would be lucky to make a run at the division. I also made reference, in the darkest of times, that just making the playoffs would be enough, in this season of so many injuries. But here we are.
The series kicks off with a supreme pitching matchup, Madison Bumgarner against Clayton Kershaw. Bumgarner comes into the game with a 14-9 record and a 2.66 ERA. And, of course, he’s a left-hander. Maybe you’ve heard of the Dodgers troubles with left handers? In three games that the Dodgers have faced Bumgarner this year, they are hitting .311 against him with a .855 OPS. He seems to be the only left-handed pitcher Dodgers batters have been able to hit. He is also coming off a loss to the San Diego Padres. Kershaw comes off a rain hampered, nearly perfect start in New York. Kersh went five innings, allowing one hit and striking out five, and of course, walking none. I have no doubt that he will be in fine form to shut down the Giants at home with the division on the line.
I’m not going to make any predictions as to how this series will turn out; I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that it works out that Vin is able to call them winning the division at home this upcoming weekend. Selfishly, I think that after all of the injuries and blown games and other things that has happened this season, and the fact that this is Vin’s last homestand, it is deserved and fitting.
And when it does, I will have the trombones ready.